Vancouver, BC — Genome BC is investing in Augurex Life Sciences through its Industry Innovation (I²) funding program.
The funding is repayable and is allocated to promising technologies (products, processes or services) at the early stages of commercial development. The Fund aims to provide risk capital that is concurrently matched by other public or private funding sources.
“Genome BC’s investment in Augurex will help the company launch several other blood test products from their pipeline and advance their therapeutic program,” said Dr. Pascal Spothelfer, president and CEO, Genome BC. “Combined, these products could transform the management of rheumatoid arthritis with true personalized approaches.”
With a focus on autoimmune diseases affecting joints such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Augurex has already developed its first blood test, called JOINTstat™, which measures the 14-3-3η protein in blood for early RA diagnosis, joint damage risk monitoring, and also predicts RA development in people with joint pain.
Since 14-3-3η is a very early contributor to disease and correlates with joint damage prognosis, it facilitates the identification of patients for early RA intervention and tighter control of treatment so that clinical and remission targets can be reached; the highest priorities in rheumatology care.
Additionally, a portfolio of 14-3-3η-centric biomarkers has emerged from Augurex’s work, with demonstrated applications in multiple autoimmune diseases with joint involvement.
“Augurex was founded on an invention shared between the University of Alberta and the University of British Columbia in 2006. The early discovery data, based on 37 patients, was convincing,” said Norma K. Biln, CEO of Augurex.
JOINTstat has since been studied in over 4,000 patients, and is Health Canada approved. It was launched in Canada by LifeLabs and has been in clinical use since late 2013 in the U.S.
Recently, the test was also CE marked and TGA approved making it certified for clinical use in Europe and Australia.
“From Augurex’s inception, we’ve benefited from access to government programs, angel networks, top tier Canadian scientific opinion leaders and a relationship with LifeLabs, which has allowed us to bring this homegrown innovation to Canadian patients and clinicians,” Biln adds. “Often at this point, it is harder for companies to access government funding and that is why the Genome BC program comes at such a pivotal time for Augurex.”